There’s a silence every reader experiences from time-to-time. A cold silence which you sit through; frozen, passive, reflective. It’s a silence which inhabits you and renders you speechless for hours: this is the consequence faced by the reader of a good book. So many books drive us to this incredible state; they leave us fulfilled yet hungry, complete yet lost. Books give us so much, yet we take for granted their existence for our pleasure and rarely consider how they came to be.
Books give us so much because someone gave us that book; its author. Without even making eye-contact with us, writers are capable of spinning us through a turmoil of emotions and set our hearts and minds racing with new thoughts and perspectives. The beauty of book festivals is that they give readers an opportunity to connect with the mind behind the literature they love so much.
At the Birmingham Literature Festival, readers will have the opportunity to meet the great mind whose works have made them cry, laugh, think, and dream. This wonderful ten day event from 3-12th October 2013 will decorate Birmingham in bookish splendour with famous writers becoming the cherries to the city’s literary cake: the newly opened Library of Birmingham.
As bees to their hive, book lovers, as they swarm into a book festival, create the most soothing nectar to nourish a cultural community. Readers can be found sitting in the most obscure places, propped up against stone columns of the town hall or lying on the rim of the fountain in Victoria Square, all balancing a book to the most comfortable reading position they can find, disregarding any peculiar glances they receive from passers by. As music festival goers adapt their footwear to weather conditions, the bookworms adapt their bookmarks to their location: from train tickets to coffee shop receipts.
This year’s Birmingham Literature Festival features an astounding collection of groundbreaking authors, including some of the most powerful and influential voices of social and cultural identity: Germaine Greer, Australian journalist and author of The Female Eunuch, poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah (pictured) and UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Other names include Will Self, author of shortlisted The Man Booker Prize 2012 novel Umbrella, former local schoolboy and now nationally acclaimed author Jonathan Coe, New York Times bestselling author and journalist Lionel Shriver and many more.
The writing community is one of the friendliest, warmest, loyal and inspirational of communities to be part of; it’s certainly easy to find yourself lost in interesting conversation with someone you’ve never met before! Book festivals brings together people who all burn with sincere passion for literature and relish in discussing it.
The Birmingham Literature Festival is open to anyone, whether you’re an avid bookworm or someone who hasn’t picked up a book in years. Events aren’t lectured talks primarily focussed on authors and their work, but vary from lively discussions about literature in general, offering a fantastic insight into a writer’s thought process and opinions, to South Asian dance performance which will be used to illustrate the reading of Daljit Nagra’s Ramayana.
And why should the writers have all the fun? The festival will allow everyone to pick up a pen and discover their creative self through a series of workshops such as writing horror, poetry and translating, and poetry sharing events hosted by the delightful UK Canal Laureate Jo Bell. Being home of the biggest library in Europe certainly makes Birmingham the laureate city of literature, and this year’s literature festival should mark the coronation of this wonderful city’s new crowning glory.
Word: Choncey Boddington